Come, ye children, huddle close to my warmth — not closer than six feet, mind! There you are. It gives an old crone such as myself vast pleasures to see your smiling eyes and no other part of your face at all.
You children are precious but ignorant, your unformed brains ravaged by neither playdates nor piano lessons. I fear that when I forget, there will be no one to carry the memory of the Old Ways. For this ancient, craggy brain has begun to play tricks on me, such that, upon viewing a doorknob, I sometimes forget to immediately sanitize my rheumy eyeballs, and then scrub each orb with soapy water.
But I digress, and as I do, I see that some of you are wandering into the forest, where you MUST NOT MAKE SOUP OF THE CREATURES WITHIN! I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Don’t be afraid of me, your old crone. I get a little worked up. Please, come back. Sit on these comfortable armchairs I’ve made for you out of dirty snow. I want to tell you about service. And cuisine. I want to tell you about restaurants.
Long ago, we would occasionally go out and then in again. But not back in from whence we had come, no! We would go into a new place, called a “restaurant.”
I remember going to a restaurant as if it were yesterday. The edifice was constructed of solid, vibrating silver, and seemed to scat jazz music as it trembled, awaiting its diners. Inside, a restaurant was guarded by a wicked sylph, incomparable in its beauty, its venomous rage simmering under sickly sweetness, like a mad custard. Its knifey fangs bared, the sylph would pose a series of inaudible questions, each of which was to be answered with fawning, apologetic lugubriousness. To fail the Test of the Sylph was to be cast out, your heart literally and metaphorically minced.
But, ah, if the restaurant was appeased by your presence, the sylph’s facial aspect would change from snarl to smile, and no sooner had you been enrobed in fine furs than a server would appear with a litter. Each diner would be heaved up onto that litter and fellated as he or she was carried to their table.
The chairs were tall, about 1.5 times as tall as a regular chair. The servers would appear, their huge, expressive, naked faces covered in noses and mouths and chins the likes of which you little tykes have probably never seen. They would rest the tips of their noses upon your nose, and then would scream pleasantries into your open mouth, filling you with their nightmares and their dreams.
Everywhere there was sound, as the diners rhythmically struck their plates and glasses with golden cutlery and unceasingly murmured things like “my cat has kittens” and “tender, tender meat,” until something broke, and then the whole restaurant would erupt into cheers of “OPA!” The opa would then emerge from a trapdoor in the restaurant’s center, wizened, wild, spinning and throwing schnitzel into the waiting mouths of hungry diners. In those moments, we laughed so hard all of our teeth fell out, and oh, how we missed our teeth.
Then began the feasting: your server would deliver to you baskets of perfect little red pomegranate seeds, each completely encrusted with princess-cut sapphires. Mounds of lamb shanks, loins, and shoulders, cut from impossibly tiny lambs, came out on shards of broken mirror, and the small lambs would reconstruct themselves and dance for you as you clapped and spit and then gorged on their flesh. And always there was bread, more and more and more bread, and the bread was a terrible curse, for it took inhuman strength of will not to bite the bread, but for every bite of bread that was eaten, a small devil would whip your naked back.
Wine was poured from bottle into jug, from the jug into glass, from glass into vial, and from vial into eyedropper, which was then emptied into your slack mouth by your server’s assistant while you were, again, fellated.
Then the meal ended, the check would come, and the beetles would swarm, erasing everything from your mind, removing every scrap of clothing, texting everyone you knew before dissolving your phone with their digestive enzymes. Afterward, it was time to depart. You would be scrubbed with pink volcanic sea salt from Japan until your skin was red and soft as a baby’s, and then just as quickly as you had arrived, you would be spanked once by the doctor or midwife who had birthed you and shoved out the back door into the alleyway.
In this way we restaurant-goers were reborn afresh, every seven days. It sounds fantastical, I know. But I remember. For I am not such an old crone at that.